Festo’s biomimetic robots cannot fly heavy loads around or open door or perform backflips, yet these are still some of the very interesting robots. The company recently showcased a new video of its Bionic Flying Fox. The Flying Fox is inspired from the large fruit bats rather than the quadrupedal vulpine. Festo has created a light central structure which can be carried by the wings and can fly easily. They have used a soft and flexible membrane to form the wings. The membrane is made up of modified elastane material that is similar to a very strong Spandex which is airtight and doesn’t rip.
The Festo Flying Fox can also fly semi-autonomously which is made possible by the constant communication with an embedded motion-tracking system. The system has two infrared cameras that sit on top of a pan-tilt unit. The two cameras can easily track the entire flight of the Bionic Flying Fox from the ground. The cameras use four infrared markers which are placed on the robot’s legs and wing tips.
The robot gets ‘smarter’ each time it takes a flight. The images and flight patterns, which are recorded from the robot’s cameras, go to a central master computer which helps machine learning to come up with better flight patterns. The flying can also be checked against the pre-programmed paths. These pre-programmed paths are improved constantly and then sent back to the robot.